Film Review: Agent Vinod

Directed by: Sriram Raghavan

Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Prem Chopra

All images courtesy of:

“Has the delay in release affected the perception of Agent Vinod?”. This was the question in my head as I clocked Kareena’s character wearing J Brand combat trousers that were all the rage a few seasons ago. But I quickly surmised that a good film is a good film, no matter when it releases – whilst a release can help with that first weekend, ultimately March 2012 has shown the old adage that it is content that survives and flourishes (step forward Kahaani and Paan Singh Tomar). But that is by-the-by and by my reckoning, not the reason why I couldn’t fully connect with Agent Vinod.

Even though I am a Saif fan and think Raghavan is a great director, there were two weaknesses that stood out to me – first off, Agent Vinod cannot decide whether to over-estimate or underestimate its audience so it commits the cardinal sin of trying to do both, and in the process, whilst the story is in place, I felt the film lacked focus and couldn’t maintain its momentum throughout. Secondly, the weakest elements of the film are when the premise doubts itself and rushes to cliche ville, where we feel like we have seen it all before and style takes over content. This is a real shame as when Agent Vinod gets it right, it is very watchable and even absorbing (I’m thinking of the second half here rather than the flaccid first).

Technically, the editing and cinematography are very good with the difference in older and newer portions working in the film’s favour. I thought the action was very good as were the use of old Hindi film songs that sit in juxtaposition to the on-screen action. Credit also has to go to the few moments of drama and the song shot as an action sequence – had there been more of this and less faffing around, we would have had a very different and stronger film.

Performance wise, it’s Saif all the way, throwing himself into the role and mostly hitting his targets though I did think the script let him down and could have given him more to work with but then the test for any actor is to rise above a weak script and I felt Saif grew into the role and managed to give a good account of himself. Kareena seems a little lost, faithfully following direction and let down by a confused character graph as well as a lack of purpose – if anything, I felt she was wasted and this role would have suited a newcomer or glamour puss rather than Bebo.

I really wanted to like Agent Vinod but have to be honest, though it was entertaining, it didn’t quite do it for me. If anything, Agent Vinod should have emulated a Don 2 but ends being more of Ra.One which similarly had everything it needed for a good film but squanders it to a weak script. However, on a positive note, Agent Vinod does set up the premise for a sequel and even a long running franchise and hopefully, the makers will have learnt a few lessons such as story and character first, everything else after. Perhaps one to catch on DVD or telecast if you miss in cinema, Agent Vinod is one of those films that has bags of potential; if only the makers could have realised it. As they say in fashion speak – almost.

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